Sunday, 8 November 2015

Some Sharp Observations

I am reading "From Dictatorship to Democracy" by Gene Sharp. In it he outlines the principle questions that must be addressed in defining a winning strategy. I shall attempt to address each key question. This is not intended to be a comprehensive post. It's probably not even a good post, but it should set the ball rolling for our "strategy week". It will be a worthwhile exercise for our bloggers to consider a post for each subject heading. By the end of the week we shall publish a collaboration round up of this which should cover all of the bases.

What are the main obstacles to achieving freedom?

In this instance there are many. The first that leaps to mind is apathy. Apathy is the biggie. Arguments of democracy and sovereignty elicit a "meh" from most within the political sphere - and voters in general. We have to make the distinctly unexciting somehow interesting and vibrant. That can be done - but it won't be easy. Then there's the status quo effect - we have to convince people that voting to leave is worth the trouble.

Our media is also another major obstacle. The way in which it narrowly frames a debate makes it very difficult to insert new ideas. Breaking their grip on the debate will be difficult. This picture speaks a thousand words.

Then there's prestige. It will be difficult to counter the prestige of office and the weight of top brass weighing in on the side of the status quo. They control most of the avenues of communication and have long since bought the loyalty of institutions and high profile organisations.

What factors will facilitate achieving freedom?

Internet! Social media, blogs and our fierce devotion. It's all we have so we have to make the best use of it.

What are the main strengths of the dictatorship?

As much as they have prestige and an ability to control the narrative they also have a great deal of resource. They can see hazards on the horizon and head them off - with our money. Their main strength is a disengaged public unaware of the true nature of the EU.

What are the various weaknesses of the dictatorship

First off, it does not engage in dialogue. It is in transmit mode only. It relies almost entirely on its supporters within to spread its message and it has little in the way of a passionate grassroots base.

As much as it's interesting to chart the disonesty of the opposition and the depths to which they will sink, it's almost as enlightening to see who's retweeting it. The retweeters tend to be people who either work for the EU, federalist think tanks or are shortlist MEP candidates. They do seem to be of a particular ilk. All of them somehow have political or journalistic careers pegged to our continued membership. If we play dirty, they are vulnerable.

Ultimately, their greatest weakness is one that exists in all they do. Hubris. It is predictable and exploitable. They may have seen the kippers coming, but they haven't seen me and thee yet. 

To what degree are the sources of power for the dictatorship vulnerable?
They are part of a much loathed establishment. They are patronising, they are extremely arrogant and they lack any real knowledge. If we outgun them in knowledge stakes their credibility and prestige can be undermined. Moreover, their arguments are transparent and weak. Their strategy is to play to public ignorance. We should expose this. The public do not like being taken for fools.

As to the media, attacking their credibility is kicking at an open door. In this we must be entirely consistent and attack it even when it produces content that notionally supports our case. A reputation for accuracy and integrity means we take the moral high ground. The eureferendum Twitter account is respected by opponents for that very reason. It means we have an open channel to other opinion formers and reasoned debate is not closed off to us.

What are the strengths of the democratic forces and the general population?

Weight of numbers and dedication. If we look at the Twittersphere of political actors it is a surprisingly small pond, many of which are irrelevant noisemakers. With just a a hundred well trained and committed people working to a particular brief, pushing a very well crafted message we can own all of the spaces to which we have access. It is on this battlefield where the intellectual battle will be won or lost. It is here we must have air superiority.

What are the weaknesses of the democratic forces and how can they be corrected?

Our allies are largely ignorant blowhards, galactic egos or illiterate buffoons with no concept of strategy. This cannot be corrected in the time available. Perhaps not even in a hundred billion years of trying. In a real revolution scenario we would have to reconsider our position on the use of non-violence. In that instance, some sort of hammer or a pair garden shears would be an adequate corrective implement.

In the absence of corrective measures, the approach must be to isolate, marginalise and detract. In other words, we must show leadership, instruct our supporters to ignore those sources likely to cause harm, and provide them with a superior alternative. This we are already doing, it works and they key to it is proliferation through intensified recruitment. That should be the focus of our activity.

In a lot of respects, the enemy will use our "allies" to their advantage. Being that the case, we must regard our allies as part of the problem and as much an extension of the enemy as anything else. We shall have to fight through them before we can advance our forces.

There. I alluded to the possibility this might be a crap post, and it is, but I'm battling a sinus infection and insomnia. So on that note, I'm handing this over to you and crawling back to bed.

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